Those who are delve into the art world are usually familiar with the fact that in relation to the Impressionist artists, Mary Cassatt was the only American who received an invitation to join. Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas was impressed with Cassatt’s work after seeing it in the official Salon, and it was he who extended the invitation.
Here’s a quick look at a few of the Mary Cassatt famous paintings that inspired many women artists.
Five O’clock Tea
This painting was created in 1880, and it is renowned for its ‘freshness and immediacy.’ Within the painting you will find two women who are gazing to their left, almost as if they are looking at someone who is standing right outside of the canvas. One lady is sipping tea, while the other one looks either very intrigued, while at the same time confused. There are many dark colors used in the painting, especially blacks, grays and burnt reds.
Children On The Shore
One of her most loved paintings of all time is Children On The Shore. Painted in 1884, Cassatt captured the essence of two children playing in the sand. She did not pose them perfectly like many paintings during this time. Instead, the children are painted as they would be in real life. One grips the handle of a shovel quite awkwardly, while the other one is deeply concentrated on filling a bucket with sand. In the background are the sea and sail boats, and as with many of her paintings, the perception isn’t quite right, but nonetheless the paintings turn out beautifully.
The Child’s Bath
Mary Cassatt turned to other cultures to find inspiration for her paintings. Child’s Bath, painted in 1893, is clearly influenced by Japanese art. She liked painting pictures of women doing their everyday activities, such as giving a child a bath. Within the painting you will notice that Cassatt adopted many elements associated with Japanese aesthetic, including:
- Steep perspective
- Asymmetrical composition
- Flattened space
- Area of pattern
Young Woman Sewing in a Garden
This painting was created sometime between 1880 and 1882. You can clearly see Cassatt’s experimentation with bold compositions in the painting, and as most art enthusiasts would agree, her experimentation turned out quite lovely. The painting has a bit of an awkward 3D appearance to it, with the figure of the women appearing as if it is sitting directly on the surface of the canvas. The women sits straight up, while everything in the background — garden and tree line — follow a diagonal axis.
It was in 1874 that Mary Cassatt painted Woman Reading. This painting became so popular because it focused on women doing every day activities, such as reading. More importantly, it focuses on things that middle-class women would partake in. Critics of this piece found it very refreshing, and they reported that it showed a strong demonstration of Cassatt’s mastery of color. You’ll quickly notice that there is a use of extremely bright white coloring from the left corner up to the middle of the painting, forming a triangle of color. When looking at the painting, due to her use of color, you are immediately drawn to focus on the body of the woman and what she’s holding in her hands.
The Cup of Tea
The Cup of Tea was painted by Cassatt in 1879. At this point she was well established within the group of those who were French Impressionists. Gustave Geffory during this time pointed out that Cassatt was “exquisitely Parisian,” while others were trying to decide for themselves whether she was American or English. Geffory also pointed out that The Cup of Tea was one of his favorite paintings of Cassatt. It was this painting that also received much recognition from Karl Huysmans, who states it “expresses a flutter of feminine nerves.”
Lydia Leaning on Her Arms, Seated in Loge
This is by far Mary Cassatt’s most brightly colored painting. It is said that this painting is largely influenced by Cassatt’s love for socializing, which often led her to the opera and theater. In the painting, it shows a woman leaning forward as if she is waiting for something to happen. Many people think that the woman is intensely engaged in listening to an opera. And while the woman is intrigued in whatever it is that she is looking at and listening to, she is also completely relaxed, which comes from Cassatt’s views that operas promote an atmosphere of romance, socialization and relaxation.
In this painting we find Cassatt’s sister crocheting. She is posed at Mary-le-Roi, which is located about 40 miles west of Paris; this is the location where Cassatt’s family spent their time during the summer of 1881. The angled and straight lines used in the painting direct all attention straight to the woman sitting in the chair, and once again, it shows a middle-class woman doing an every day activity.
Mary Cassatt Self Portrait 1878
Although Cassatt painted only a few portraits of herself, once she started, it was clear to see that her painting style changed tremendously after she decided to paint for herself rather than pleasing the Salon jury. Her paint strokes show a sense of freedom within them, and it was also during this time that she experimented with different painting materials, including gouche.
Little Girl in a Blue Armchair
Once again, instead of being perfectly posed, the subject in the Little Girl in a Blue Armchair is sprawled across a blue chair. Much of the entire painting is blue. The scene is full of blue chairs, including one with a small dog that appears to be sleeping. Patterns and asymmetric designs often seen in Japanese prints largely influenced this painting.
There is so much to love about Mary Cassatt’s paintings. The paintings mentioned above are but a few of her great pieces.